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Bare Witness: Review highlights


Andrew Fuhrmann

….an amazing dramatic collage describing the exhilaration, the horror, the outrage, the anguish and the dread hopelessness of combat-zone photography, fusing a compelling life story, expressive choreography, poetic visual effects, a complex moral dilemma and the best sound design of any production seen in Melbourne this year…..

….a very strong piece of literature, balancing well the playwright’s evident familiarity with the technical aspects of her subject, the poetic fragments and beautiful images ….Kostich reinforces the text with a powerful directorial argument…. peculiar fluid, choreographic style, we see a play that is aboutcomposition, and, especially, composition as advocacy…. The triumph of Bare Witnessis that all this polemical and personal material is conveyed, not as a direct address, but through a concatenation of poetic imagery…a beautiful theatrical immersion, a dramatic meeting of presence, movement and arrangement…..the kinds of risks that we don’t see enough of.

Alison Croggon

In the directorial hands of Nadja Kostich….. Bare Witness becomes an outstanding piece of physical theatre: a punishing, sensually immersive investigation of trauma that never forgets to be intelligent… a seamless marriage of its various parts, which add up to an overwhelming work of theatre.….among the most exciting physical theatre I’ve seen – inventive and exhilarating, demonstrating how the precision of actors’ bodies is quite different from the miraculous accuracy of dance: more vernacular, perhaps, in its comparative coarseness, but when as passionately and skilfully performed as here, every bit as compelling……a relief to see a work that so directly, without naivety or cynicism or face-saving irony, addresses the complexities of real world calamity. …….ambitious, smart, beautifully realised theatre.

Prue Bentley
…..a strikingly original work. Multimedia on stage is nothing new, nor is live sound design, but when it comes to unifying these elements, director Nadja Kostich has delivered the genuine article.

In particular Jethro Woodward’sexplosive sound design rumbles away with dark persistence….more intense than a film score, dirtier than just live FX.

….serious theatre with unrelenting fervour. You don’t see this kind of passion for a project often – it’s unwavering and powerful.

….strong performances across the board with an unselfconscious and evocative physicality.

Richard Watts Arts
Hub Arts Editor

……a vividly realised expressionistic exploration of photojournalism in wartime….Wonderful sound, lighting, performances  and a story that’s powerful without being harrowing

Stage Whispers
Geoffrey Williams

Mari Lourey’s epic Bare Witness script is an extraordinarily layered, insightful and passionate testament to the monumental dedication and primal survival instincts of the people behind the lens.

Jethro Woodward’s soundscape is marvellous – not only its pure inventiveness, but also in its complicity with the text. Emma Valente’s lighting is intricately incorporated into the action, and the use of various different light sources throughout the performance are particularly arresting.

Trip The Light Fantastick
David Hare

It is thrilling physical theatre……As with the entire production, Emma Valente’s lighting is multi-faceted and full of innovation, from the hand held torches to spotlight the actors’ faces, to the flouroescent lights that strobed and glared at different moments during the play, to the swinging candles during [Jacek’s] final monologue…..…….A must see.

Smiljana Glisovic
As in a flipbook, fragments of a life are animated, moving through the war-zones of Bosnia, East Timor and Iraq. The limits of the space, of this photojournalist’s life, are constructed and dismantled, along with the ethics and moral boundaries of the situations that she is thrust into. Flashes of light explode from cameras, bombs and light-boxes. A chorus of actors bends in and out of liminal spaces, dodging and re-assembling the shrapnel, like snap-shots, telling a multiplicity of stories and possible versions/takes. The live music score (by award winning Jethro Woodward) is relentless, but beautifully so, writing in a phraseology that departs from the single elements of the narrative and deepens the echoes of metaphor.

Nadja Kostich and an ensemble of experienced and talented actors, designers and musicians have developed this piece into an impressive work.

The aesthetic and use of back projections, music, light, movement, are indelibly integrated into the philosophy and aesthetic of the concepts of the play. Relationships between the elements are forged and dismembered, sometimes amplifying, sometimes contradicting, sometimes aping or echoing each other. It makes for a splintering of meaning and possibility. This is such a rare coalescence at a time when multimedia is a consistent crutch and distraction in much of live performance.
A deft hand has known what details to leave out of this sensorially very full production.

Australian Stage
Written by Liza Dezfouli

As a work of performance, it is wonderful, employing eloquent and dramatic theatrical devices, multi-media, and some terrific physicality where the actors turn themselves inside out to say the unsay-able. The play creates with authenticity and verve the fraught hyper-reality of the world of the foreign correspondent, often in peril, living an unholy and thrilling existence surrounded by horror, and all the while documenting it.

It’s an extraordinary thing to bring to life in an inner-city theatre space this sort of atmosphere and tension and it is to the credit of the team involved in Bare Witness that it succeeds in this so well. The form of the play itself crosses boundaries; it is, as well as a drama, a work of choreography. The live music score adds to the frequent effect of breathlessness and numerous devices are brought into play to serve the world it is portraying. You can nearly smell tear gas, sweat and blood.

The Age
Martin Ball

Nadja Kostich’s production is built on fluid and restless movement, much like its subject.

The production eschews the obvious visual motif of graphic war images, instead projecting footage of a lone wolf – the perfect metaphor for a creature both hunter and hunted.

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